Chapter 2: Stressors and challenges

Introduction

“We’re trying to keep things as normal as possible for our patients in a totally abnormal environment.” - Physician

Stress can leave us feeling deeply frustrated, overwhelmed, frozen, or unable to cope. We may feel that we have little or no control over a situation, particularly now. Workplace stressors have become amplified and additional challenges have been thrust into our lives and our work. 

Some stressors that are inevitable include the challenge of being able to meaningfully engage with our patients and their families before moving on to the next person. Other stressors are more systemic such as staff-patient ratios, clinical tasks, periodic changes to the scope of care, team dynamics, length of shifts, or supervision and support.

In this chapter, we will explore the similarities and differences between stress and grief and examine some of the main stressors people working in healthcare are currently facing.